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Packing

Once a program is cracked, it is time for packaging. While broadband users have an easy time downloading 600+ MB files, the rest of the world has to be able to download files using their 56K dialup connection. Obviously, attempting to download a 600MB file would not prove to be very successful, and if it were, the time required would extend into days (if not weeks) for most titles.

To assist these users, there are rules that most elite warez groups abide by when releasing a program. At times, these groups form an alliance that is then used to set a standard. For awhile, one such group was known as the Faction, which had a set of 10 rules that standardized the release of games. While there are various releases that don't follow these guidelines, the warez groups attempt to stick to the rules. In fact, these pseudo rules often become a point of competition for many warez groups. The number of files, total size of release, and number of features left in the release are important in determining the quality of the release.

To clarify the ripping process, let's walk through the steps required to turn a 600MB game into a 200MB release. The first thing a group would have to do is determine how to circumvent the piracy protection. This typically doesn't add in any space, but must be considered and included in the final release. Next, a group must determine what the final release can do without. Obviously, any additional extras such as DirectX installation files can be immediately removed. Next, all the sound files, which more often than not are extra-large WAV files, are converted to MP3 files, and a converter program is added to reconvert the MP3s back to WAV files on your computer. Next, the game is examined for movie files, sound files, song files, or any other files that are not necessary for game play. If a game can do without a certain type of file, it is removed, and a patch is included that ensures the game won't attempt to use a missing file. However, a warez group will be very cautious about removing any of these files because it affects the quality of the release. Fortunately, a warez group can gain back some points by providing a separate release that includes just the sound or movie files.

Once the game has been laid bare, an installation script is written, and an installer is added to the files, the installation process becomes a simple point-click operation. For example, Figure 1 shows an old installer used by the CLASS group. This installer and others are available at shareandenjoy.com for you to view and be amused by. One of the things to observe in this example is the subtle hint ("Myth sucks") that is delicately placed in the snow. Again, this example illustrates the deep love shared between the various warez groups.

Figure 1Figure 1 CLASS warez installer (notice "Myth sucks" in the snow).

NOTE

there is no guarantee that the files on this site are not riddled with Trojans or viruses.

At this point, the final task of taking all the files and packaging them up into distributable sections is undertaken. Again, there are rules and guidelines provided that determine how many of these files can exist and how big each file can be. Early in the days of warez, the file size was small (1.44MB) due to limitations on download speed. However, this size has increased several times and is currently at about 15MB. In addition to the size limit, the entire package must fit in a limited number of files. This is to facilitate the spread of the files to dialup modem users; just imagine the annoyance of trying to download a 200MB file! Thanks to some organizations, a computer user can now just download a series of 15MB files, one at a time; and because the files are statically sized, incomplete files are easily spotted and can be replaced.

It should be noted that the last few years of the 20th century brought an ISO scene that did much of the same type of gathering and cracking activities. This evolved into the current bin/cue scene, which is just another format for CD image creation. Regardless of the label, all formats of warez require the same basic steps of collection, cracking, packing, and distribution; with slight variations at each stage.

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